Paul Grayson | Super Moon Redux

Super Moon Redux

September 11, 2014  •  1 Comment

Since the moon changes position significantly from day to day, this month I had to design another point-of-view to capture it with a Parisian monument, as it rose at azimuth 89°, almost exactly due East. I calculated that it would rise underneath the Eiffel Tower and set myself up on the opposite bank of the Seine:-


Super Moon ReduxSuper Moon ReduxCopyrighted Digital Photograph


A Little Astronomy


I needed two “apps”, a plastic geometry angle and the weather forecast to plan the capture.


The first app is “Darkness” by, which calculates rise and set times, the compass angle (azimuth) and elevation in the sky for the Sun and the Moon. Set your location and Darkness immediately tells you when and where the moon will rise relative to where you are and subsequently how high it is in the sky, as you wait for it to appear.


With this information, I reviewed the map of Paris, considered the angle of view and tried to find an interesting backdrop, using the geometry angle on a paper map to plot the line relative to 0°North. The Eiffel Tower captured from the quai opposite seemed a good possibility.


I checked the weather forecast to know if cloud cover was going to be so dense that photographing the moon would be pointless. However, as we all know, the moon can cope with quite a lot of cloud and, indeed, can be a beautiful  sight as it flies through “scudding” clouds. The answer was that the sky would be clear.


My second “app” is a compass, which I used, once I arrived at the chosen spot, to double check where the Moon would rise relative to my tripod position. Physically in position, I was pleased to see that the moon was indeed supposed to rise between the trees and the arch of the Eiffel Tower. Some shuffling back and forth was necessary to fine-tune my view of the moonrise, but only by a few yards.


Patience Is A Virtue


Unfortunately, I rather lack it, so I spent about 25 minutes pacing backwards and forwards from the time that the heavenly light was due to breach the horizon. I was worried that cloud cover was building on the horizon, such that the moon might not be clearly visible. I confess that I forgot to use Darkness’ elevation function to reduce the anxiety, by knowing when the moon would be high enough in the sky to see. My worry about the clouds turned out to be partially justified, as a large, orange and indistinct moon eventually started to peek through the branches of the trees at which the camera was pointed.




There can be few sights so immediately recognisable as the Eiffel Tower, even if only a small section of it is shown. I wanted to emphasise the moon as being “captured” in the small segment of sky between the trees and the tower. I tracked it from below the treetops and chose this image, in which the tracery of the trees brushes the lower part of the moon, giving a compensating clarity of detail to counter the haze created by the clouds as well as a pleasing, ethereal look. The golden colour of the Super Moon resonated eerily with the lighting of the tower, almost suggesting that the tower was moon-lit.


The soaring struts of the tower had their own wild dynamic as the perspective twisted them into angles that did not seem to lead to a stable engineering solution, notwithstanding the clearly correct ground horizontal provided by the trees, adding another strange aspect to the scene.


Technical choices


To be fair to myself, I had been patient enough in setting up. I used “Live View”, which checks focus at the “pixel level”, set focus and exposure to manual, the shutter to “up”, connected a cable release and hung my camera bag from the tripod, all in order to maximize the sharpness of the distant scene.




Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G with extender

Focal Length: 280mm


Focus Mode: Manual

Aperture: f/6.3

Shutter Speed: 1/40s

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Manual

Exposure Compensation : +1.3EV

Bracketing set to 5

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 500

Mounted on a Tripod


Is that too many Super Moons for one season? Did you like this image? Please leave your thoughts using the Comments option.


Copyright Paul Grayson 2014


Je suis impressionné par toute la préparation de cette photographie. Chapeau bas.
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